Apr 18, 2014

Famous Last Words

Photo by: Tricia Gosingtian ©

No, I am not dying. The title seems appropriate though given that it is Good Friday and I am celebrating it a bit different than most (and how different I am celebrating it this year than how I did the previous years.) This day is like tradition. I wake up on Good Friday, turn on the television and watch The Seven Last Words program, which is an annual thing back here. Basically, you reflect on the famous seven last words of Christ on the cross before he expired... and also, you get to hear people talk about their experiences and their personal reflections relating to one of the seven words or on a certain phrase. Then 3 o'clock strikes and it is time to pray on the holy hour that Christ died. It is a yearly tradition in my family, since we are devout Catholics and this year, I expected it to be no different... how absolutely wrong I was. Today, I woke up and heard the television playing the same program I have grown up to on a yearly basis but then I opened my eyes and everything seemed so different. This was not my room, this was not my bed (though it was my bed sheets) and then the almost numbing dull pain creeps in and I realize that I am in a hospital, the pain I am feeling is the reason I was confined in the first place and I feel that it is so difficult too move since I am hooked up to so many IV lines. It seems quite timely and appropriate since what better way to commemorate the passion and suffering of Christ with a suffering of your own? Strangely, I accept the situation and predicament I am in willingly and with no complaint. Aside from the terrible discomfort, I find pain and suffering an integral part of human life, perhaps because I know no other way to live but as with everything I experience, I have a tendency to embrace practically anything life has to give me.

It's definitely a different experience this year but who am I to complain? Certainly my life has been anything but traditional and unlike my peers who have gone out of town, out of the country... (out of this world?) for vacation, I find myself going out of the ordinary since holidays and vacations seem to translate to a hospital trip to me and while this is far from what I would call ideal...I don't think whining about it is going to make things better. I am not condemning those who are in the beach or in their own private retreat/ vacation with their loved ones. I think these days are best spent around those you love. I also don't look down on those who consider these days to take a breather because I find that it is indeed a good time to relax, unwind and reflect. I am simply stating that in this new experience that is going on around me, I find that the thing about Holy Week and commemorating the passion of Christ is that each of us has the right to spend it however as we please...as long as we do not forget what  is essential and what the whole point is. I am sharing my experiences for this year not to undermine other people and prove myself better than anyone else, since if you really know me, I have so much more reasons to live than that. I am sharing this experience because I want everyone to know that there are many different ways to go about these days and that the most important thing about it is that we make the most about it without having to complain, be bitter or be cynical. 

Tomorrow will be another ordeal and I am to undergo two procedures. But rather than feel my emotions inward, I find myself rather optimistic and oddly, upbeat. I guess it's nice to be able to take some things just for what they are. I remember one of my favorite quotes by Haruki Murakami that goes- "And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through or how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what the storm's all about." As I always say, there's no other way but to ride the storm.

The question is, how do we maximize our exposure to these peripheral opportunities and how do we learn from them? The answer? By letting people take chances, try different things and almost more importantly, by allowing people to make mistakes and by being open to getting into situations where serendipity can perhaps help them strike gold. I have always believed in this and live by this principle of not being so quick to call fail on someone who is trying something new or something different. People don't stumble across a nice town or a nice city if they follow their satnav directions to the letter. The road less traveled is not always the road least worthy of travel. I think Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr said it best: "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field," it is perhaps time to accept that mistakes are not what get in the way of success...they are what propel is to it.

Lastly, when we think we have an answer, the first reaction is to stop looking for a solution and I find that that can cause more problems than admitting we're clueless or acknowledging that our current situation isn't perfect. It can be difficult to change our route once our destination has been decided (trust me, I know). When we see proof that speed bumps are not effective but want them to make roads safer, we build more speed bumps anyway. The thing I have come to discover is that if we think more information should be needed to solve a complex problem, we waste time, money and opportunities compiling as much information as possible. Simple solutions can seem inappropriate for complicated problems and for us, doing nothing is not an option. But doing something isn't always the best way to solve a problem. Sometimes, we should just do nothing, This urge to be seen doing something rather than actually fixing the problem is not just frustrating... it is counterproductive, expensive and dangerous. 
"It's a lot to live up to. These pressures of achieving. From the moment you're born, you're pounded with the expectations of what you need to actualize in order to become a success. Go to college. Get married. Raise a family. It's what you're supposed to do. The plans you're supposed to make. The life you're supposed to live. Diverge from the norm and you're frowned upon. Questioned. Shunned. There's something wrong with you if you're not interested in improving yourself. If you can't make a commitment of marriage. If you don't want to have children. So people earn a college degree so they can get a good job. They work at a job they hate just to earn a living. They spend two months' salary on an engagement ring. They pop out a couple of kids they don't really want just so they can fit in. Because it's what their parents did. Because it's what society expects you to do. Because it's safer to take the same path everyone else has traveled."

- Big Egos, S.G. Brown

PS: Anyway, do say a little prayer for me as I undergo my procedures tomorrow, if you do have time.

xx, JL

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